So I’ll be honest: in the past few weeks, I’ve been struggling. It has felt a little like I’ve lost my voice, like I’ve been unable to translate the thoughts in my head to words on a page in the same way. Writing has been a challenge, and that’s painful for me. It’s painful even to admit. And because I don’t just write for myself anymore, because I also write for other people, I was putting lots of pressure on myself to start writing again before I was ready. I was setting deadlines and putting unrealistic expectations out there, even thought I could feel that the timing wasn’t right. And so eventually I realized that what I had do to was back off. The words would come when they were good and ready, and not a moment before. I just had to be patient.
And here we are! It’s a funny thing. The more pressure I put on myself to write, the less creative and open I feel. Does that mean though, that I shouldn’t make goals or deadlines? Does that mean I can’t set expectations for myself? And what of these resolutions we make every January 1st?
As far as creating goals is concerned, I think it’s an important thing to do. I constantly set goals for myself– I also constantly fall short of them. The difference between now, being in recovery, and before, when I was sick, is that I don’t berate myself every time I don’t meet a certain expectation. I “succeed” and “fail” on daily basis, with regard to both my own expectations and those set by others. I am constantly readjusting and reevaluating what I want for myself, whether or not something is good for me, whether or not something is worth my time. I have enough respect for myself at this point in my life to be able to say, Ok, I tried this and it didn’t work. I’m taking this piece out because it’s no longer serving me. There’s an immense amount of power in that. Whether it means you have to end an addiction, end a relationship, or something as simple as no longer watching a certain TV show, being able to edit your life to what you need it to be is, in my opinion, essential to being an empowered individual.
Why would you wait until some arbitrary mark on a calender to begin transforming your life in the ways you need to? As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason. Every new second that ticks by is an opportunity to make new choices, make better choices. And this opportunity is open to every single person, everywhere in the world. We just forget. We forget that change is an option, until the new year reminds us. And then we begin making grand resolutions, setting big goals, putting lots of pressure on ourselves to make the kinds of changes that been meaning to make the rest of the year.
A great many of those resolutions don’t last. Why? Probably for the most part because people take on too much at once. They’re very enthusiastic to begin a journey of change but are easily sidetracked when they encounter the day-to-day discipline of it. Or perhaps they’re excited to acquire the outside accouterments of a certain journey, but don’t really want to dig in to the internal work. Whatever the reason, in 2010 a national survey stated that 88% of people “failed” the new year’s resolutions they set, with more than 2/3 calling it quits in three months or less. I think so much of that could be helped if we all just took a deep breath and realized that January 1st is just a date like any other. It is no more significant that the rest of the calender– unless we choose to make it so. We have the opportunity to make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others everyday, and we’re much more effective at it when we don’t try to do it all at once.
The truth is, none of us knows how much time we have. Life can turn with every breath we take. Treat each day like the new chance that it is. Give thanks for the fact that you have these chances, and don’t let them pass you by.
© Sarah Henderson 2011